How To Become a Call Center Agent (With Skills and Salary)

Updated March 3, 2023

A call center is an office where customer representatives accept calls, place calls or provide technical support and other services to customers. The career path to becoming a call center agent can be simple, and with the right training, you can become a call center agent in as little as one year or less. In this article, we discuss what a call center agent is, including what they do daily, explain how to become a call center agent and discuss salary and job outlook information for these professionals.

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What is a call center agent?

A call center agent is a professional who operates a telephone line at a call center. A call center typically serves as a hub for an organization's sales team, technical support team or customer service team. Call center agents may work in a small call center in a business or in a larger call center building specifically designated for call center operations.

Related: 6 Types of Call Centers and Their Purposes

What do call center agents do?

Call center agents are an important part of the sales, customer support and technical support chains of a business. They can work in the sales or customer service departments of private companies and government entities. They perform many duties, including:

  • Cold calling leads

  • Answering customer support calls

  • Troubleshooting products

  • Upselling merchandise or service plans

  • Greeting customers on the phone

  • Tracking daily calls

  • Ensuring customer satisfaction

  • Analyzing calls to determine if they need managerial help

How to become a call center agent

Becoming a call center agent can be a quick process if you already hold a high school diploma. This is typically the minimum education requirement for call centers, but some centers require at least a year of experience in a call center or customer service setting before you can apply. Here is what a typical career path for a call center agent can look like:

1. Get relevant skills training

The first step to becoming a call center agent is to get relevant skills training. Having the right skills when you enter the industry can help you get a job quickly and prepare you for the duties you may have each day. This can involve training with call center software, training in customer service and communication and training in a fast-paced environment with quotas. Learning to complete quality work within a specific timeframe can help you become more efficient and prepare for daily call quotas at a call center.

2. Evaluate your skills as you plan your resume

Next, begin planning a professional resume that highlights your skills that are most relevant to a call center. You can focus on experience in customer service environments, such as food service, retail work or sales positions. These kinds of positions typically help an employee learn how to talk to customers and solve customer problems quickly and professionally, along with meet sales quotas. Think of example situations that demonstrate your use of these skills.

Read more: Building Skills To Become a Great Call Center Employee

3. Design a resume with a focus on your skills

The next step is to design your resume. You can use a template that focuses on customer service skills and experience or design your own. Resumes typically include:

  • A header with contact information

  • A professional summary

  • A list of skills

  • Work experience

  • Education

  • References

Emphasize any skills you can apply to a call center position and briefly discuss how these skills have helped you in your experience. Take time and ensure your resume is accurate, professional and consistent throughout. You can also draft a personalized cover letter, as some positions require one to serve as an introduction to each candidate for the hiring manager.

Related: 31 Tips for Working in a Call Center

4. Submit applications

Once you complete your skills-focused resume, you can submit applications to begin the hiring process. Think about what kind of call center you'd prefer to work in. There are many options in the private and public sector, each with its own requirements, opportunities for advancement and salary. Working for the federal government can get you access to good benefits and a good salary, but you may need more training in specific regulations and laws for certain positions.

5. Complete an interview

After you submit your applications, a recruiter may contact you for an interview. Typically, recruiters complete interviews either over the phone, online or in person. The interview allows your employer to learn more about you as a person and expand on your professional skills and education to ensure you're a good match for the company. It's important to dress appropriately for your interviews, bring a copy of your resume and be on time.

6. Continue learning hard skills on the job

Once you become a call center agent, you can keep learning industry hard skills on the job. These skills, such as call center software operation, customer service and meeting call quotas, can help you explore new career paths within the industry. Attend training sessions to strengthen your knowledge and learn more about different work processes. As you increase your experience, you can earn better pay and additional responsibilities.

Education and training for call center agents

Call center agent positions typically request a high school diploma, but few require higher education. A call center typically provides training and focuses on:

  • Customer service

  • Communication skills

  • Software skills

  • Sales skills

  • Industry laws or regulations

  • Meeting quotas

Depending on the industry niche, a call center may provide more specific training. For example, federal call centers may require certain legal training before agents can work on the phones.

Skills for call center agents

Call center agents bring many skills to the job that help them interact with customers, operate phone software and meet their daily quotas or goals. These skills can include:

  • Communication: Call center agents bring good verbal communication skills to the job to talk with customers, coworkers and supervisors in a respectful, professional way.

  • Patience: Call center agents use patience to handle challenging situations over the phone, such as an upset customer or long wait times.

  • Punctuality: Call center agents arrive at work on time and meet their deadlines to keep the call volume high.

  • Organization: Call center agents keep organized workspaces, including call and sales logs, to track their progress toward quotas or goals.

Related: Best Practices for Speaking to Customers at a Call Center

Work environment for call center agents

Call center agents typically work in an office setting. They can work as full-time or part-time employees or as contractors for staffing agencies. Call center agents use telephones and computer software to track calls, phone numbers and quotas. Call centers may operate inside of businesses or as their own entity, depending on the volume of calls and the needs of the business. Agents rarely have exposure to occupational hazards.

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Call center agent salary and job outlook

Call center agents make an average salary of about $30,346 per year in the United States. However, this salary may vary depending on an individual's location, experience and level of education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported around 3 million customer service representative jobs in 2019, which include call center agents, and they expect an estimated 2% decline through 2029. This decline may be due to a continued automation of some customer service tasks.

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